Mysteries and thrillers are my favorite fiction genre, so it was a treat to discover that the book I’d chosen for Costa Rica was a very readable mystery. Cadence of the Moon, by Óscar Núñez Olivas, tells the twisted tale of a serial killer who is terrorizing the people of Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose.
Most of the victims are women, and there are many telltale signs, often gruesome, to support the conclusion that the murders are all the work of one man. Trying to find the killer becomes all-consuming for Homicide Chief Gustavo Cortés and other members of the police force. The FBI even sends in one of its profilers to assist in the investigation as the number of victims continues to grow.
Also working hard to discover the identity of the killer is reporter Maricruz Miranda and others at the newspaper El Matutino. As Maricruz pursues the story, she finds herself more and more in the company of Gustavo, which lends romantic intrigue to the plot.
The investigation takes many twists and turns, reaching into a religious cult, a left-wing terror group, and the highest rungs of the social ladder. Many themes are raised in the book – misogyny, work-life balance, workplace ethics, and the politics of class, among others. The ending isn’t all tied up with a pretty bow, but it may present a realistic picture of the pressures that can be brought to bear in a setting where the oligarchs hold all the power.
The characters in Cadence of the Moon didn’t eat anything that was culturally relevant, so I went back to the International Vegetarian Union’s website to look for a recipe from Costa Rica. I found a good one for black bean soup. It had a ton of different spices in it, but since I’d reorganized by spice cabinet on New Year’s Day, I was ready for it.
This is a very hearty soup and has an excellent flavor. It’s a tiny bit on the spicy side, so if that’s a problem for you, you should probably cut down on the amount of cayenne. A dollop of vegan sour cream provided a nice finishing touch.
The GlobalGiving website lists several projects for Costa Rica. None related to any particular situation in the book, so I just chose one that touched my heart. The Community Action Alliance provides school supplies, uniforms, and shoes to help children from low-income families attend public school in Costa Rica. Many of the children who receive assistance from this program are being raised by single mothers or guardians, and they would not be able to afford to go to school without this help from the Community Action Alliance. More information about this program is available at https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/give-the-gift-of-education-to-children-in-poverty/.
NEXT STOP: CÔTE D’IVOIRE (IVORY COAST)